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Congratulations are in order, kind of, for a few exemplary researchers and one massive multinational corporation.

This year's Ig Nobel awards — the rather-less-noble-than-the-Nobel awards for "improbable" research and accomplishments — were announced Thursday night.

The honorees included a man who lived as a goat, a man who lived as a badger, a man who put tiny pants on rats and tracked their sex lives, a team who investigated the personalities of rocks, and Volkswagen.

Warplanes were pounding rebel-held areas of Aleppo hours after Syria's government launched a new offensive amid the collapse of a cease-fire earlier this week — and internationally renowned rescue volunteers say their centers are being targeted by the airstrikes.

The regime announced the offensive on state media Thursday. "A Syrian military official said airstrikes and shelling in Aleppo might continue for an extended period and the operation will expand into a ground invasion of rebel-held districts," The Associated Press reported, quoting Syrian state media.

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A Complete Guide To Early And Absentee Voting

Sep 23, 2016


What Does Early Voting Data Tell Us?

For those who can't wait to get this election over with, there's good news — early voting is starting.

The bad news: That only applies to you if you live in one of 37 states that offer some kind of early voting (in person, absentee or by mail) without an excuse needed.

More than 1 in 3 people is expected to cast a ballot early this year. On Friday, voters in Minnesota and South Dakota can start turning in absentee ballots. On Saturday, they can do so in Vermont, and ballots will go out in New Jersey.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be together on stage for the first time on Monday. Both candidates have a lot at stake when they meet at Hofstra University in New York for the first of three presidential debates, this one with moderator Lester Holt of NBC News.

Each has different opportunities and challenges in the debates. Here are four things Clinton will have to think about. We also looked at four things to watch for Trump.

On Monday, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off in their first debate at Hofstra University in New York. In a race this close and with as many as 100 million people watching, the debates present both candidates with chances to seize momentum but potential pitfalls as well.

Here are four things to think about as Donald Trump prepares for the debates. We also looked at four things to watch for Clinton.

Almost two decades ago, Dr. Lars Aanning sat on the witness stand in a medical malpractice trial and faced a dilemma.

The South Dakota surgeon had been called to vouch for the expertise of one of his partners whose patient had suffered a stroke and permanent disability after an operation. The problem was that Aanning had, in his own mind, questioned his colleague's skill. His partner's patients had suffered injuries related to his procedures. But Aanning understood why his partner's attorney had called him as a witness: Doctors don't squeal on doctors.

American lives have been getting steadily longer, and since the 1960s that trend has been driven mostly by a remarkable reduction in heart disease. But those improvements have slowed dramatically. Scientists are now wondering whether we're approaching the end of the trend of longer, healthier lives.

That's because the steady decline in heart disease is fading.

Hip-hop artist Amisho Baraka, who performs as Sho Baraka, is one African-American man who feels left out by both major political parties — and he says this will affect his vote come November.

Back in the 1980s, Davao City was a largely lawless city on the largely lawless island of Mindanao, known to the wider world mostly for its Muslim and communist insurgencies.

Keeping The Dead In Their Place

Sep 23, 2016

Runaway coffins. It's an issue floating to the surface with increasing frequency in Louisiana. It happened again last month when two feet of rain fell in less than 72 hours in some parts of the state. Towns were flooded — as were their cemeteries.

Protests in Charlotte, N.C., continued for a third night — without the violence of earlier demonstrations. Police officers and National Guard troops shared the streets with marchers protesting a fatal police shooting earlier this week.

Jay Price of member station WUNC describes the mood as "mellow," and says that police and protest leaders worked to keep the marchers moving, doing laps of uptown Charlotte.

Harvard University reported that its endowment fund saw a loss of 2 percent, or $1.9 billion, on its investments for fiscal 2016. It's the single largest annual decline since the financial crisis.

The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African-American man, by Charlotte, N.C., police is under investigation and the circumstances are very much in dispute, but when you listen to protesters, you hear that their frustration isn't about just this one case.

The Amazon series Transparent is about a transgender woman named Maura who for decades was known to her kids as Mort, or Dad. Actor Jeffrey Tambor plays Maura and has just won a second Emmy for his performance. "When those roles come along, you don't run away," he tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "It's a perfect role, you know? I thought I was gonna do Lear, but I'm gonna do Maura."

It's almost a year to the day since world leaders committed to meeting 17 "Sustainable Development Goals" by 2030, from wiping out extreme poverty to fighting disease and inequality.

Perhaps they should have added an 18th goal — compiling all the data needed to achieve the other goals.

This data gap has been the talk among advocates for the poor this week as the U.N. General Assembly's current session got underway. It was at last year's General Assembly that the 17 goals were set.

Betty Shelby, the Tulsa Police Department officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, is being charged with first-degree manslaughter in the case, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler says.

Kunzweiler announced the charge Thursday afternoon, six days after Crutcher died in a controversial encounter that was captured on video by a police helicopter camera and dashboard cameras.

Yahoo has revealed that it suffered a massive cyber breach in late 2014, which the company believes resulted in theft of information about the accounts of at least 500 million users.

The Internet responded in stride — as it has to all recent Yahoo-related news — with the regular tide of jokes about Yahoo's dinosaur status.

In 1970, archaeologists excavating the site of an ancient synagogue in Israel dug up a cylindrical lump of charcoal that looked like the remains of a scroll.

The animal-skin document was badly burned and battered. It was so delicate, just touching its surface sent pieces flaking off. To attempt to read it by unwrapping the layers would be to destroy the artifact forever. For curious scholars hoping to know what was written inside, the so-called En-Gedi scroll was a hopeless enigma.

Until now.

For all the international furor over genetically modified food, or GMOs, the biotech industry has really only managed to put a few foreign genes into food crops.

The first of these genes — actually, a small family of similar genes — came from a kind of bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Those genes make plants poisonous to certain insect pests.

Chinese officials are under fire after a local government tried to repair a section of the Great Wall by apparently just paving it over. Now, a centuries-old stretch of the wall looks more like a gray sidewalk than a global treasure.

"The five-mile stretch of wall in northeast Liaoning province is known as a particularly scenic part of the 'wild wall,' " NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing. "Its towers and parapets are partially crumbled by seven centuries of wind and rain."

Take a look at this video:

If a word is spelled correctly, the pigeon has been taught to peck at the word. If it's spelled incorrectly, the pigeon is supposed to peck at the star. When it gets it right, the machine hands it some food.

A group of researchers from New Zealand were able to train four pigeons to consistently — with 70 percent accuracy — recognize dozens of words. The smartest pigeon learned about 60 words that it could distinguish from about 1,000 nonwords.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the U.S. for the collapse of a fragile cease-fire earlier this week and denied carrying out well-documented human rights abuses, such as besieging civilians or using chemical weapons against them.

Providing details on a large hacking case, Yahoo says it believes "information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen." The company says its investigation suggests the stolen data doesn't include payment and bank account information, which it says are stored in a different system.

Yahoo suspects that a "state-sponsored actor" performed the hack, stealing users' account information from the company network late in 2014.

Many of the signs say "Black lives matter," some read "No justice, no peace." And some have a simple directive:

"Release the tapes."

As demonstrators in Charlotte, N.C., take to the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, one of their demands is for law enforcement to show the public video footage of the encounter that led to Scott's death.

If there were a hall of fame for criminals, it would have to include notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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This is FRESH AIR.

Ruling on a lawsuit filed by a state's Democratic attorney general against its Republican governor, the Kentucky Supreme Court says Gov. Matt Bevin doesn't have the authority to unilaterally slice money out of a state university's budget.

From member station WUKY in Lexington:

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